The Toronto Raptors gambled Wednesday when they traded DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 protected first-round draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Leonard, of course, asked for a trade earlier in the offseason with an eye on heading to Los Angeles to be a Laker or a Clipper. But instead, the Spurs sent him to Toronto to play out the last year of his contract. Leonard’s desire to play in LA has many believing the Raptors made a mistake in giving up an All-NBA performer in DeRozan for a guy who very well could leave in a year.
But Jalen Rose isn’t one of those people.
The ESPN NBA analyst dubbed the trade a “win-win” for both sides Wednesday on “Get Up!” claiming Leonard “could be the LeBron James of the Eastern Conference.”
It already has been floated that the Raptors were OK taking a gamble on Leonard because they were able to shed DeRozan’s contract without sacrificing young players OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet.
Leonard reportedly has no interest in playing in Toronto, but after playing just nine games last season with that mysterious quadriceps injury, the 27-year-old will need to take the floor in order to show he’s fully healthy and get a large contract next summer.
If Leonard is healthy there’s no reason to think he can’t lead the Raptors — who were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season — to the conference finals or perhaps the NBA Finals. And if he does that, there’s always a chance he elects to spurn the Lakers and stay in Toronto.
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